Coping with loss

One of the most difficult aspects of life is loss.  As we travel on our journey, people and places pass in and out of our lives.  They are there for a time and then they are gone.  It may be sudden and unexpected, or even with time to prepare, we are never fully ready for it when it comes.  As Heraclitus says, “Change is the only constant in life.”  This is true, and while change may not necessarily be about loss, it is the most confronting for us.

So how do we deal with loss?  One of the most important is to allow yourself to grieve.  While many feel the need to “be strong” for those around them, and that is a legitimate short-term coping mechanism, in time we must allow ourselves to feel the pain so we can accept it and begin to heal.

We must also try to remember the positive aspects of your relationship with what was lost.  It can be a painful experience, which may cause us difficulty to talk or even think about.  Memories can weigh heavily on our consciousness and emotions.  But also trying to hold on to the things that you loved, and the memory can in time return a warmth to you that you thought lost forever.

And at last, the most critical is to not face your grief alone.  Lean on those around you who love and care for you.  It’s a natural reaction to shut them out, to not let them see or feel your pain.  You don’t want to be hurt again.  There is a Swedish proverb: “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”  There is great wisdom in this.  We are by nature are social creatures.  We already know that a laugh shared with a friend is more enjoyable than on our own.  But we must also remember that to share a grief is to have another we can draw strength from and in turn they from us.

While change and loss are inevitable, it is not something we need face alone.  Allow yourself to feel and for others to feel your pain with you.  Henry Nouwen describes it perfectly.  “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”

Life is for living.


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